Having seen Nahko perform a couple of times, you can always expect a powerful and emotive evening of storytelling, original songs and inspiring medleys of covers, mixed in with his silly humour and light-hearted stage presence.
It was the first time Nahko toured Europe solo and this time splitting his set and sharing the stage with long-time friend Trevor Hall who was in the UK for the first time. They both captivated the audience with a solo set before uniting at the end of the evening for a performance which left the audience in awe and utter silence from start to finish. The two vocal harmonies blended with acoustic guitar and piano resonated the intimate Exeter Phoenix and left the audience inspired.
Trevor Hall performed classic tracks such as ‘The Lime Tree’ and ‘Unity’ alongside singles such as ‘Moon/Sun’ off his latest release, The Fruitful Darkness EP. Hall told stories of how he met Nahko and what inspired his music. The dynamic between them showed their passion and love for each other’s friendship and music, the audience witnessed a respect between two individuals on stage which created a performance that I’ll never forget.
Nahko performed some of his best known tracks such as ‘Budding Trees’ and ‘Aloha Ke Akua’ along with a Medley of well-known tracks such as Bridge Over Troubled Water which was particularly relevant as the Bridge which inspired that song can be found in Exeter. The evening ended with an epic rendition of The Wolves Have Returned, a song written by Nahko which features on his album Hoka and has guests appearances from Trevor Hall, Xavier Rudd and Leah Song. It was the perfect end to an influential evening of stories and music.
After the show we managed to talk to Nahko about the show, his album and plans for the future.
So it’s still very early on in the tour, only the second show, but how is it going so far?
Tonight was way better.
Yeah well the crowd was amazing but the first show is always a bit, you know, wonky. Trying to get into the flow, like is the set the right length? You know all the little things.
So can you tell me about the time you met Trevor (Hall) and how the tour came about?
Yeah that was literally how we met, I’m trying to remember when that was, it might have been 2011, 2012.
So it was at a festival?
It was a festival that I’ve; well we’ve both been going to for like 8 or 9 years now. Really big community, it has sort of Hawaii connections to like west coast. Just like a bunch of, you know, they’re not just like people you go to see at a festival, they are friends that you hang out with outside the festival.
It has a real community feel then?
Yeah, and they all travel as well, like winters in Hawaii and summers in Minnesota sometimes. Really cool people, so that’s kinda how we met, so we sort of started to kick it you know. Then we both lived in LA for a while.
So then we both surfed together, actually we never got together there, first time we ever surfed together was actually in Australia, then we did a tour in Australia together. And then we went and did lots of solo things.
I guess it’s hard to get the time together as you’re both so busy with you solo projects?
Yeah, it’s just so hard to afford each other. So I said hey I’m doing this solo thing, I got this time blocked out. And he was like ‘I wanna go’ and I was like ‘well I’ll see, see if you have the time’
It’s awesome, and then we’re coming back in July. Not to here, other places in Europe, other places I have been before, like Spain.
And is that a risk? Do you worry if people are going to show or you’ll have the fan base?
Well yeah it’s crazy, but the tickets are selling like crazy! Because you never know, not only is it a shot in the dark if you have fans but it’s also a shot in the dark if it’s like the season for buying them.
Like we’ll do stuff in the states and do it different times of the year and sometimes it will sell really well and other times it’s like what’s going on.
So you’ve just released ‘My Name Is Bear’ and you’re still touring that with more dates in the summer.
I never really had a big plan with it, I wanted to do the tour, I wanted to take it to Hawaii, I wanted to come out here with it. And I just wanted to kinda integrate it into what we were already doing.
And how is it leaving the other guys behind or you happy coming out with Trevor?
Oh yeah for sure, and I started playing solo you know. And even in the last, I’ve always done stuff solo anyway. It’s been a while since I’ve done an actual tour you know, I go play gigs.
And have you been here solo before?
Nah, first time. And it’s a whole different vibe I’m usually just like ‘let’s rock n roll up’. You gotta get like hella casual but then you gotta read the room, like ok we’re in a theatre, doing a show!
‘My Name Is Bear’ is volume 1, is there a plan for volume 2? And for more songs, because they’re all songs from your past and childhood.
Yeah you write songs yeah? So you know I have so many songs that are just sitting in the archives. And you gotta go through them like ‘does this suck? Or is it cool?’ I put Volume 1 on there because like I knew there would be a Volume 2, but who knows when that new volume will be. I’m working on the next Medicine For The People record at the moment.
And is the new Medicine record mostly new stuff?
All new stuff yeah.
Really? And where do you find the inspiration for that?
Well you know it depends; there are songs worth putting on the new record that are old. But it just depends on what we come up with in terms of the whole intention of it.
Aside from your music, you do a lot of supportive things for various charities and positive change movements, people such as Sea Shepherd. Is there anything you’re supporting now? Like recently you did the ‘Love Letters To God’ for the Standing Rock protest. Is there anything you currently supporting?
Yeah there’s a organisation on the Kumeyaay reservation in San Diego. Because in San Diego there is the largest accumulation of reservations in the United States in one area. And so there they have new projects based on bringing traditional foods back to the native people there. And so along the border, this new organisation. Started like a 6 acre lot of area for growing traditional foods.
Yeah it’s a fucking rad plan and awesome strategy. And they have a lots of great partnerships with like, extreme sports are huge down there, like surfing, skate boarding, BMX, Dirt Biking and all that shit so we have Ex games people coming through and do like an event with power bikes at the skate park there, some of the Ex games riders came and road with the kids and did like a bike giveaway and stuff like that. And like there’s a lot of companies based in San Diego like there Dr. Bronners Soap and others, and those guys are partnering with indigenous regeneration projects and supporting the young people and learning about healthy foods and keeping their traditions alive. So yeah that’s cool.
Also this year, we’re doing again. I have a scholarship in my name.
Through an organisation called intertribal youth. So it basically provides scholarship programmes for under privileged natives who basically don’t have like federal funding, they don’t have a number round their neck to say they’re part of a tribe and shit, so yeah they don’t get money.
These are like kids who are at the head of their class and doing amazing things for the community. So last year we campaigned, and I thought we’d only get like one kid to send to camp, because we invited our community to support them and we ended up getting like 6 kids to go, that’s like $12,000 in a month.
And in what way is the Scholarship helping the kids?
Well it’s sending them to camp, it’s a summer camp. We go like ‘hey guys, would you like to send some of these kid’s to camp?’ and so they would send money and we raise enough to send 6 kids to this camp. Last year it was in Oahu and this year it’s in Panama.
Finally your fans love seeing you and Trevor together. Are there plans for another tour or an album together in the future?
He was horrible, never again! Ha Ha! Yeah after the first night I was just like over it. We’re coming back in July so you know, at this point it’s all we got.
More info can be found here: http://nahko.com/
Review/Interview by Spencer Brooks